The Obama administration has notified Congress of a $1.83 billion defense arms sales package to Taiwan, Assistant Secretary John Kirby announced Wednesday. The move angered China as it undermines the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and China-U.S. relations. The arms sales also took place at this particular time when a possible World War 3 is brewing over the disputed South China Sea.
As previously reported by Morning News USA, U.S. is showing signs that it is backing away from a possible WW3 over the contested South China Sea. Insiders from the U.S. Navy said President Barack Obama did not approve another patrol of the region within 12 nautical miles. A former military official also revealed that compared to China, U.S. warships are already old and should undergo overhaul before it can take chances against Chinese vessels.
On Wednesday it seemed that the U.S. may have just changed its strategy. Instead of having direct combat with China, it would just supply arms to Asian allies. Assistant Secretary Kirby announced a 1.83 billion defense arms sales package to Taiwan. “This notification follows previous notifications by the Administration, totaling over 12 billion,” Kirby told press. “Today’s notification is consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. There’s no change to our longstanding One China policy based on the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” the assistant secretary outlined.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the armed sales package. “It also highlights the fact that U.S.-Taiwan relations are indeed at their very best,” according to a statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Taiwan said that the move will “help maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and increase our confidence as we engage in dialogue and improve relations across Taiwan Strait,” the statement further said.
China was unimpressed. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said it firmly opposes any arms sales from U.S. to Taiwan. “I would like to reiterate that the arms sale from the US to Taiwan constitutes a grave breach of the principle of the three joint communiqués between China and the US,” the spokesperson highlighted. “The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to fully recognize how sensitive and harmful the arms sales can be, stick to its commitments, stop selling arms to Taiwan, and contribute to the overall interests of China-US ties and the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations,” Lei stressed.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said the arms deal is a serious violation of international laws as well as China’s territory and security interest. “To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale,” the foreign minister said.
Kirby explained the rationale behind the administration’s decision: “We make decisions on arms sales to Taiwan based on our assessment of Taiwan’s defense needs, period.” Asked whether the administration should try instead to minimize the repercussion for U.S.-China relations, Kirby said, “Nothing’s changed about our One China policy.”
Ironically, U.S. pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift had warned that the South China Sea dispute could engulf the region in a possible arms race with China’s continued militarization in the region. China rebuked this statement, saying that the general situation in the South China Sea is stable. “Some countries intentionally play up tension in the region so as to create disturbance and poke their noses into the South China Sea affairs,” Hong Lei said.
China claims most of the South China Sea. The country remains adamant that its dredging project in the region is for public service. The region had been significant to trillion-worth of world trade shipments yearly. Some of these shipments are heading to and from U.S. ports. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea.